Illegal To Sell Or Possess Synthetic Marijuana After Today

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Our unusual warm weather we have had earlier in the week has turned into a much colder environment as the leading edge of the weather front, so called the “Pineapple Express” due to its tropical origins, passes.

As we return to sub-freezing temperatures at night, the daytime temperatures remain in the upper 40s to lower 50s. The cloud cover we experienced earlier in the week prevented many from observing the lunar eclipse that occurred in the early morning hours of Tuesday. However, some storms were passing at that time over the Mogollon Rim that did produce lightning that was observed.

The Rim Country Senior Center is planning on a dinner at noon, Friday, Dec. 24 at the center. Those residents who are not mobile and subscribe to the “Meals on Wheels” will be offered an assisted ride to the Rim Country Senior Center for a dinner and a social. For more information, please call Bonnie Schwarck or the administrative assistant of The Rim Country Senior Center at (928) 535-5525.

Synthetic marijuana being sold locally under dozens of brand names such as Spice, Blaze and K2 will be illegal to sell or possess after Dec. 24. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exercised its emergency powers to ban the five most common chemical compounds used to make synthetic marijuana — JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497 and cannabicyclohexanol. The compounds mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

In taking its emergency action, the DEA determined that the compounds are an “imminent hazard to public safety.” According to Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon, “The prohibition on selling or possessing any product containing these compounds will last for at least one year while the DEA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study whether they should be permanently controlled.” Carlyon said the synthetic marijuana compounds will be designated as DEA Schedule I substances. This is the most restrictive category, reserved for unsafe, highly abused substances with no medical purpose.

According to Carlyon, the synthetic marijuana products have become increasingly popular over the past year and had caught the attention of his office and the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office before the DEA took action.

“We identified at least a half-dozen local businesses selling them,” the county attorney said. The synthetic marijuana products consist of plant materials that have been coated with the banned compounds. Their effects are similar to those of marijuana. Navajo County Sheriff K. C. Clark said the synthetic marijuana products can cause hallucinations and delusions, blurry vision, elevated blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, and even seizures and loss of consciousness.”

“The emergency rooms in Navajo County have reported patients suffering from these side effects who admitted to using synthetic marijuana,” Clark said. “ER doctors also suspect that many other patients with these symptoms were using.”

The banned JWH compounds are named after developer Dr. John W. Huffman of Clemson University, who synthesized them in connection with his laboratory’s research on cannabis. Dr. Huffman said the compounds were never intended for human consumption. “It’s like Russian roulette to use these drugs,” Dr. Huffman told an interviewer. “We really don’t know a darn thing about them. They shouldn’t be out there. “Sheriff Clark said he wants to be sure all the businesses selling the synthetic marijuana products and all the people who use them clearly understand that they will be illegal after Dec. 24.“MCAT officers will be visiting the businesses right after Christmas to make sure these products are taken off the shelves and returned to the manufacturers,” Clark said. “Enforcement action will be taken against those who continue to sell or use them.”

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